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Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007

First-place Urawa impressive in 4-2 victory over Sanfrecce

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds warmed up for next week's Asian Champions League quarterfinal with a 4-2 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday to temporarily move four points clear at the top of the J. League.

News photo
Jubilo forward Ryoichi Maeda (middle) tries to attack Omiya's territory in the first half at Komaba Stadium on Saturday. Iwata defeated Ardija 2-0. KYODO PHOTO

Tatsuya Tanaka set the wheels in motion with a sublime opener and Makoto Hasebe and Yuichiro Nagai also netted goals before Tanaka turned provider for substitute Washington to wrap up victory five minutes from time at Hiroshima Big Arch.

Urawa, which plays host to holders Chonbuk Motors of South Korea in the first leg of their ACL quarterfinal on Wednesday, improved to 55 points from 25 games.

Second-placed Gamba Osaka could cut Urawa's lead at the top back to one point again if they beat visiting Yokohama F. Marinos on Sunday.

Japan striker Tanaka set the tone with a 25-meter screamer after 13 minutes and Hasebe doubled the Reds' advantage when he headed home after Satoshi Horinouchi had knocked back Robson Ponte's free kick.

Ueslei, Sanfrecce's leading goal scorer, blew a gilt-edged chance to pull one back by sending a free header over the bar and the Brazilian striker's miss proved costly as Urawa went three up seven minutes before the interval

Ponte was again the architect, the former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder setting up Nagai to smash past Takashi Shimoda at his near post.

Ueslei atoned for his earlier miss by reducing the arrears with a scorching effort in the 41st minute and Koji Morisaki gave Hiroshima hope with a second, only for substitute Washington to make the points safe for the champions with a clever finish.

Shimizu S-Pulse kept Urawa in their sights as goals from Takuro Yajima and Takuma Edamura earned a 2-0 home win over relegation-haunted Ventforet Kofu and lifted them into third place on 47 points.

Kashima Antlers slipped to fourth after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Nagoya Grampus Eight, World Cup striker Keiji Tamada sealing a 3-0 win at Mizuho Stadium.

In other games, Koki Mizuno scored twice as JEF United Chiba cruised to a 4-2 home over 10-man Vissel Kobe and Jubilo Iwata made a winning start under new manager Atsushi Uchiyama with a 2-0 defeat of lowly Omiya Ardija.

Japan Under-22 striker Sota Hirayama put another nail in Yokohama FC's coffin with a late goal as FC Tokyo ran out 2-0 winners at National Stadium.

At Todoroki Stadium, Oita Trinita looked set to take three precious points in their bid to beat the drop but defender Yusuke Igawa hit a last-ditch equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw for Kawasaki Frontale.

U.S. beats Sweden

CHENGDU, China (AP) Kristine Lilly glanced up, catching sight of Abby Wambach 25 meters ahead racing down the left side toward Sweden's goal. She reacted instinctively, lofting a soaring ball for Wambach to run under.

Wambach did just that, settled it off her chest, and lashed a left-footed half-volley from 15 meters that ripped into the net behind Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.

It was classic Lilly-Wambach in the 58th minute of Friday Women's World Cup Group B game; America's top strikers linking up to seal a 2-0 victory over Sweden and move the No. 1-ranked Americans into a perfect spot to reach the quarterfinals.

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